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Segregation Program

Program Implementation. After the WRA segregation program was outlined, and the groups to be involved delineated, the segregation hearings began at each of the ten relocation centers in August 1943. At Manzanar, however, the WRA had "already gone into segregation, in the arrest of 26 people" following the violence at the camp on December 6, 1942. [72] Furthermore, Manzanar had already undertaken hearings for male Kibei who answered "No" on the "loyalty questionnaire" between April 15 and May 5. Thus, the initial segregation process and the Kibei hearings" had served as the focal point of the discussions held at the February and May WRA project directors' meetings dealing with segregation. As a result, Manzanar was the first center to experience "segregation," as well as the first to use hearings to determine those to be segregated based on the "loyalty registration" program.

In a May 21 report stemming from the "Kibei hearings" at Manzanar, Project Director Merritt, who feared this sizable group in his relocation center, explained the rationale for the hearings. They had been conducted because

503 of the Kibei at Manzanar answered "No" on question 28 out of the total 627 Manzanar Kibei registered by the Army Board in February 1943, inquiry into the questions of what is a Kibei and what creates this amazing percentage of apparent disloyalty, became of vital importance. There is apparently little known of this group of American citizens of Japanese ancestry. They are not the 'forgotten men', they are men who were never known or understood. As a group of possible danger and potential disloyalty, they are the product of American neglect. They represent the crux of the so-called Japanese problem. Therefore, at Manzanar. . . . a thorough and prolonged investigation of this group [was undertaken] in order that essential facts regarding them might be brought out for the guidance of any interested government agencies dealing with Kibei.

Accordingly, a "Review Board of Manzanar, consisting of Lucy Adams, Chief, Community Services; Throckmorton, project attorney; Robert L. Brown, Assistant Project Director, and Director Merritt, had been established. "Each of the 503 Kibei men who had answered No came before this Board and were interviewed at as great a length as seemed necessary in order to permit them to state their position." Merritt continued:

When the Board reviewed the 503 cases it found 138 of that number who desired to swear allegiance to the United States and forswear allegiance to the Japanese Emperor. . . . the remainder of the group, 365, or approximately 60%, express a desire to say "No" to the loyalty question and most of them added that they desired to return to Japan.

The reasons for maintaining a "No" answer at this hearing, according to Merritt, were:

  1. Lack of ability to speak English and an education that is Japanese.

  2. Parents or other relatives in Japan and a desire to return to them, in accordance with Japanese custom and tradition by which a son must support his parents and a family must be a unit.

  3. Property in Japan owned by the family.

  4. Distrust of American officials or the position of the American Government, and lack of confidence in the future of any Japanese in the United States.

Merritt recommended that those Kibei who answered "Yes" or changed to "Yes" (and were approved by the Board) be given leave clearance; those who answered "No" not be given leave clearance; and if any of the Kibei were "uncooperative," they be removed from Manzanar and placed under "military control in another center." Merritt also recommended that Congress enact legislation making it possible for dual citizens (the laws of Japan and the United States made dual citizenship possible) to divest themselves of their United States citizenship and

to protect the exercise of the rights of citizenship by requiring those, who by accident of birth, were endowed with citizenship but who have been educated in he language and institutions of a foreign land, to demonstrate their ability to speak the language of this country and display a reasonable degree of understanding with regard to the Constitution, the laws and governmental philosophies of the American people. . . .

Merritt concluded the study by stating that

the alien Japanese, proven to be dangerous and the Kibei, actually or potentially un-Americanized as shown by his statements or his record, are the two groups requiring closest attention among those of Japanese ancestry in the United States. [73]

Throckmorton, a member of the review board that conducted the Kibei Hearings" at Manzanar, concluded "that the original answers to question 28 should not be made the basis for any important action unless they are supplemented by additional information." He observed that it was "quite clear that there was a great deal of misunderstanding as to the meaning of question 28." There had also been "much pressure and confusion at the time of registration that caused people to answer question 28 not in the light of their own personal loyalty but on the basis of other considerations." [74]

The WRA's failure to understand the ramifications of those "considerations" played a major role in its initiation of a segregation program. However, the recommendation for acquisition of additional information was followed by the WRA when it determined that "segregation hearings" would be conducted. [75]

The first official mention of the pending "segregation hearings" at Manzanar was announced by Merritt at a special Block Managers meeting on July 13, 1943. Merritt noted that segregation would "commence September 1 and will probably end about October 20 or later." A report by Opler stated that "there was no demonstration of excitement on the part of the residents when they heard this announcement." A survey of first reactions indicated that the appointed personnel were "more excited and disturbed over the question of segregation than the evacuees themselves." Opler continued:

. . . . Evidently, they [appointed personnel] feel that this should be handled delicately and cautiously, and that the residents should be given the fullest information relative to the question, its implications and consequences. Realizing that their action and procedure during the February registration was hasty and that to a certain degree the issues were involved and confused at that particular time, they are now working on the assumption that if the residents are psychologically prepared they may be able to avoid the tensions and misunderstandings which they fear may possibly arise. [76]

In another report issued on July 15, Opler noted rather optimistically:

Segregation has been anticipated by many as the only means by which normal expressions can have free, unhampered outlet. . . . Segregation will dissolve the constant bickering back and forth between pro-Japanese and pro-American thinking persons. [77]

Five days later, on July 15, Opler prepared another report on segregation, summarizing the opinion of Kazuyuki Takahashi, Block Manager of Block 35. Takahashi believed that

The whole thing is that the people are sick of this uncertainty. They want some security and peace. They are going to answer anything to get in a center where they can have it. The feeling is that as long as they are going to be pushed out again they might as well go to the segregation camp and feel secure for the duration. I get the feeling that the majority of the administration is thinking in terms of how to get the people out. The residents are thinking in terms of how to remain in a center. So one side doesn't understand the other side's point of view, I guess. Don't you think that most of the aliens do not give a hoot whether they are considered loyal or disloyal by people on the outside? All they are interested in now is in living in peace and security during the war and in not getting pushed around. That will be the main thing in these answers from now on. Family unity and security is what matters to these people now.

People are getting madder and madder about relocation. . . . I suppose these people figure that after segregation there will be nothing that will hold up relocation in the loyal camps.

Takahashi also reported a rumor that reflected another concern of some evacuees at Manzanar regarding segregation. According to the "fantastic" rumor, after segregation "Japanese music, kendo, and flower making or anything that is Japanese" would not be permitted "in the loyal camps." [78]

Thus, the residents of Manzanar reacted to the first announcement of segregation with attitudes ranging from apprehension to anxious expectation."Segregation Hearings" and "Leave Clearance Hearings" were held concurrently at Manzanar during August-November 1943. The hearings stretched over a four-month period because of the number of hearings involved and the fact that many of the same Manzanar appointed personnel served on review boards for both sets of hearings. Approximately 2,550 segregation hearings for individual evacuees were held before the "Board of Review for Segregation" Of this number, about 1,000 evacuees also attended a 'Leave Clearance Hearing."

In a Summary of Segregation Program, Project Director Merritt informed the evacuee population at Manzanar of the need for segregation as determined by the WRA. He also explained that

Members of the immediate family of a person to be transferred to Tule Lake may accompany him. The immediate family includes the following persons: 1. The spouse; 2. Dependent parent, grandparents; 3. All unmarried children living in the immediate household of the family, including adult children. [79]

The decision to allow the families of segregants to accompany them to Tule Lake would have a significant impact on the retention or deletion of a "No" answer to questions of loyalty during the segregation hearings.

Robert Brown, assistant project director, and Merritt characterized the impact of this decision in the Final Report, Manzanar. They observed:

Segregation hearings were a long and painful process since Washington decreed that fathers and mothers who desired repatriation were to be segregees or that entire families might become segregees if one family member asked for segregation. Parents who were repatriates influenced as many family members as possible to join them in requesting segregation. Young men and women, and many boys and girls who never thought of themselves as anything but loyal American citizens, found themselves trapped in the family unity plea and their names appeared on the list of those to be sent to Tule Lake. . . .

Brown and Merritt explained the parents' motivation in influencing their children by saying that "Craftiness for self-protection was made the motivating factor in segregation by the majority of alien segregees. Loyalty was only a minor factor." [80]

Another reason for the "long and painful process' of the segregation hearings at Manzanar was reflected in a letter from Philip M. Glick to J. Benson Saks, who had replaced Throckmorton as project attorney on August 20. Glick noted:

. . . . you state that you have two hearing boards and that you allow yourselves approximately 30 minutes for each hearing. It is my understanding from experience reported at other centers that the great majority of those who answered "No" to Question 28 on the registration form are simply adhering to their original answers so that no lengthy interview is necessary for such persons. I wonder whether, in view of the large number of interviews which probably have to be held at Manzanar, it might not be possible to schedule the interviews at much shorter intervals with the expectation that only a few of them would require as long as 30 minutes. [81]

Saks responded to Glick on August 28, explaining that "one of the boards was probing the impalpable aspects of intent and attitude too deeply, and too much at length, and that its hearing was more nearly that contemplated for leave clearance, while the other board was moving along at a much faster clip, and with but perhaps a surface scratching of the factors that induced the original "No" answer and the factors which are controlling with the evacuees at the present time." "Where we are satisfied that we can recommend leave clearance we take the opportunity. at the segregation hearing, of so writing on the evacuee's papers and thus obviate the necessity of a later leave clearance hearing." Segregation was "explained in terms of its being an American problem and a Japanese problem." The board made "it clear that Tule Lake is to be the place for those who prefer the Japanese traditions, customs and ways of life while the other centers are for those evacuees who look to America and our ways of living. [82]

Of the approximately 2,550 segregation hearings at Manzanar, about 1,000 resulted in having evacuees change their "No" answers to "Yes" on the loyalty question. This group, along with those who had given a qualified answer to loyalty, or who had changed "No" to "Yes" before July 15 [518 evacuees] were to have leave clearance hearings. Denial of leave clearance resulted in transfer to Tule Lake. [83]

"Leave clearance hearings" had been held in the relocation centers virtually since they had opened. The "registration program," for instance, was essentially a "leave clearance hearing." With the advent of the segregation program, the WRA believed it possible to have a mass issuance of "leave" from the relocation centers based on the hearings conducted to implement the segregation process.

The "leave clearance hearings" consisted of questions related to the original "No" answer, the reasons for a change in answer, and the current status of the evacuee's attitude toward the United States. In a letter to Glick on October 4, Saks elaborated:

. . . . the Board conveys to the subject the understanding that its function is to help him state his case fully and without reservation so that the Board in Washington will have a complete and clear picture of the entire individual involved. . . . the interviews consume in the neighborhood of thirty minutes. . . . After the interview is over the Board reaches a decision as to its recommendation and records the flavor of the interview as well as any impressions gained of the subject or subjects.

Final authority to grant leave clearance resided with the Washington staff, the director supposedly reviewing and approving all requests for leave. [84]

By the end of November 1943, nearly all of the evacuees at Manzanar had gone through one or more hearings relating to the question of loyalty. The hearings relating to segregation and leave clearance, however, posed different issues relating to loyalty. On December 1, Lucy Adams reported:

In contrast to the Segregation hearings which discovered the number of people, especially young people who had given up the battle to remain American and had retreated toward Japan, the Leave Clearance hearings were concerned with people, the majority of whom after an initial repudiation or hesitancy about their loyalty have not definitely made up their minds that they wish to remain in this country and are prepared to carry out the responsibilities of citizenship.

Adams attributed this difference between the two types of hearings to the fact that the evacuees involved in "leave clearance hearings"

want intensely to be Americans and are prepared to undergo hardship and opposition and put up a fight for their birthright as citizens or as aliens prevented by law from becoming citizens but wanting to make this their home and the place where they raise their children.

Nevertheless, Adams acknowledged the effect of Japanese culture even among these evacuees, stating that the

feeling toward Japan is mixed. . . . but a majority acknowledge some tie — sometimes racial, sometimes cultural, sometimes family, since almost every family has close relatives living there, and often members of the immediate family.

Adams summed up the "leave clearance hearings" by a discussion of Question 28, the original precursor of the segregation program:

Question 28, the Board members felt, has come to be generally accepted as a fair test and the cornerstone of loyalty, and in general, in contrast to the almost unthinking way it was frequently answered at the time of registration, or until the segregation hearings the answer was sometimes changed, it now has almost the solemnity of an oath. [85]

Thus, during 1943 the evacuees at Manzanar had been subject to continuous and successive appeals to express their loyalty to America or Japan. The "loyalty registration," Kibei hearings," "segregation hearings," and the "leave clearance hearings" were all structured to discern commitment. The "welfare hearings," however, were different; their primary purpose was to aid the segregants and their families in their pending transfer to Tule Lake. As head counselor of the Community Welfare Section at Manzanar, Margaret D'Ille personally conducted these hearings. In the Final Report, Manzanar, D'Ille wrote:

Approximately 300 . . . . cases were referred to Welfare for counseling, there often being more than one interview per case. Such interviews and plans for these families necessitated joint planning between the Welfare, Education, and Health Section. [According to D'Ille, 106 were deferred for medical reasons, and 260 for other reasons.]

Family interviews often revealed widely differing points of view in the one family group. . . .

Typical questions asked in the interviews included: Would the children be able to go to school if the family segregated? Would they get the same kind of training that the children were getting in Manzanar? What effect would segregation have upon the family's future possibilities of earning a livelihood in the United States?. . . . would an expected baby be an American citizen if it was born in the segregation center? Were all segregees to be deported and when? will the children lose their American citizenship could we ever come back to California? [86]

Thus, even the "welfare hearings" were a reflection of the rumors and fears that existed in the camp as a result of one year's search for "loyalty."

At the conclusion of the "segregation hearings," more than 2,200 persons were transferred from Manzanar to Tule Lake. On October 9, 1943, 297 residents were transferred by train. This first group of segregants was composed chiefly of unattached Kibei and Issei.

Departure of the second and much larger group of segregants was delayed by the housing shortage at Tule Lake. According to the Final Report, Manzanar, 1,876 persons left Manzanar for Tule Lake on February 21, 23, 24, and 26, 1944, after additional housing at the segregation center had been made available. Family members of segregants who were seniors in high school were given the option of staying until June 1944 to complete their classwork and obtain their high school diplomas. A few family members refused to follow their families to Tule Lake and were allowed to stay in Manzanar.

After the second group of segregants left for Tule Lake, many evacuees at Manzanar who had not previously asked for repatriation filed requests. Some had originally answered "No" to the loyalty question, later had changed their answers to "Yes," and had been given leave clearance. Some cancelled their applications after several weeks, but other families filed new applications. Transfer of these evacuees to Tule Lake, however, was prevented by the lack of housing space. The segregation center was still not ready to receive any additional residents when the exclusion ban was lifted on January 2, 1945. Thus, a third segregation movement from Manzanar to Tule Lake never took place. [87]

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Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002